ASU addiction expert discusses long-term addiction recovery

In south Gilbert, men recovering from drug addiction work with horses, farm and run a fruit and vegitable stand as part of a two-year program aimed at teaching addicts the life skills needed to have a productive and rewarding life. 

The John Volken Academy is the work of a Candadian millionaire who studied effective recovery programs worldwide before creating places in Vancouver, Seattle, and Gilbert.  A profile of the ranch and several men it has helped is featured in theArizona Republic. The programs requires men, age 18-34, to live onsight for 2 years. The cost is about $5,000 a year.

ASU School of Social Work professor Mike Shafer has studied addiction and recovery programs for decades. He's director of the Center for Applied Behavior Health Policy in the College of Public Programs. 

Shafter told the Arizona Republic the difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness of such programs is the lack of good-outcome studies and evidence that this new, two-year program is effective. Shafer suggests treatment for addiction works best with professional counseling and appropriate medical care over a minimum of nine months of active treatment and care.

John Volken says there have been a few who left after a week, but most men graduate and remain sober. More importatnly, these men have the work ethic and life skills to be productive members of society.

"The continuing-care piece is absolutely critical," Shafer told the Republic."We have to help people address not only the short-term immediate issues of reducing and eliminating their dangerous use of alcohol and drugs, but we've also got to assist them in restoring their functioning within their home environment and their work environment as they continue to be sober." 

Read the story.

Article source:
The Arizona Republic